Donnerstag, 28. Juni 2012

From netbeans to eclipse for python development

Netbeans has been my favorite IDE for a very long time. It was unbeatable when I was still developing in Java, and when I switched to Python for my main work it also provided support for it. But lately the netbeans community seemed to have abandoned Python - at least, there is no built-in python support for any release of the 7.x series, and the available plugins are hackish and lack some of the functionality that was present still in 6.9.
So it was clear: Python has no future in netbeans. And this meant that netbeans had no future as my IDE ;)
I was inclined to actually believe the hype about eclipse - all eclipse users I know are very enthusiastic about telling you how great their IDE is. I already tried it several times, but never really got into it, always falling back to netbeans 6.9. With the recent release of Eclipse Juno I decided to give it another shot. 
Installation is no problem, you just have to unpack the zipped file and take care that the binary is in your PATH. Netbeans had this nice installer which creates directories for you and stuff, but that's not really an important point. Installation of plugins was a bit rough - Netbeans gives you a much smoother experience in this regard. But hey, it's a developer tool, and a Real Programmer should be able to figure out, right? ;)
What I didn't understand was the concept of the workspace, which eclipse forces you to choose on every startup. What the hell was so important about that workspace to justify asking me all the time which one I want to use? I never figured out until David Higgins explained to me at a recent workshop: The workspace is simply a place where your settings are stored, and has nothing to do with where your projects are located. For example, it allows you for example to use different settings when you're developing in Java and Python, or C++, for that matter. So I checked that "Don't ask anymore" box and was done with workspace selection  ;) .
I had to learn a few new shortcuts and customized other ones to be like Netbeans, which went smoothly once I discovered that hitting Ctrl-Shift-L twice gets me directly into the Keyboard Shortcuts dialog, which sports a nice quick filter widget to quickly identify any command you'd like Eclipse to perform. On the downside, I had to say goodbye to nice things like a new, separate console popping up for every process I start, or the more straightforward integration of SVN in netbeans. But then again, eclipse embraces Python while Netbeans just dumped support for it, so the decision to migrate is a no-brainer. And in addition I switched to Git anyway ;) 

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